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Squint (also known as Strabismus) is the term used when eyes do not work as a team to look in the same direction at the same time. 

  • The most common type of strabismus (squint) is where one eye turns in towards the nose, causing a squint or crossed eyes.

  • In other cases, one eye turns out towards the side.

  • Sometimes one eye turns up towards the forehead, or down towards the cheek.

  • Sometimes the degree of squint is so slight it is scarcely noticeable.


Squint is not always constant. A child might have an eye that drifts only when he or she is tired or stressed. Around 5% of children have some form of squint and because it tends to run in families, they are likely to have had it from early infancy however it can also result from illness or injury.

 In order to develop normal binocular vision, our eyes need to work together. 


When intermittent or constant squint begins, a child may have difficulty focusing on objects he or she looks at.  The brain may receive two separate images – one from each eye.  To get around this problem, the brain starts to actively ignore what the weaker eye sees and the child may fail to develop good vision in that eye.  This lack of vision is called amblyopia(or lazy eye).  If amblyopia is not detected and treated before the age of 6, then treatment becomes very difficult.


How is Strabismus (squint) treated?

 The aim is to get both eyes working together with the best possible vision from each.

  • The stronger eye may need to wear a temporary patch to stop the brain from ignoring the images it receives from the weaker eye.

  • Eye drops might be used (instead of a patch) to blur vision in the stronger eye.

  • Glasses might improve the eye's ability to focus.

  • Sometimes surgery is offered to align the eyes.

  • Exercises can be used to help the child learn to aim both eyes at the same place.


The treatment for amblyopia is similar, and early detection and intervention are essential.

NZAO recommends children have their eyes examined:

  • At 6 to 12 months old

  • At 2 to 3 years of age

  • Before starting school

  • Through their school years as indicated by testing or performance

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